BioSpace Global Roundup: Companies Slash Prices to Meet China's Health Coverage

Lower Price_Compressed

Multiple drugmakers agreed to cut prices of some of their newest drugs by as much as 50% in order to receive coverage from China’s national insurance program.

This week, Bloomberg reported companies agreed to slash the prices of 119 new therapies that treat a range of illnesses, including pulmonary disease, lupus, diabetes and cancer. Some of the drugs included on the list are AstraZeneca’s cancer medication Zoladex; BeiGene’s Brukinsa; GlaxoSmithKline’s lupus drug Benlysta and Volibris, which treat high blood pressure; and others.

The average price cut is 10 percentage points less than last year, Bloomberg said. The companies agreed to the steep price cuts in order to have their drugs made available to the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market. China’s national medical insurance fund covers more than 95% of the country’s 1.4 billion people, Bloomberg said.

Elsewhere across the globe:

Arcturus Therapeutics – San Diego-based Arcturus Therapeutics received approval from the Singapore Health Sciences Authority to proceed with a Phase II clinical study of its vaccine candidate ARCT-021 against COVID-19. The study will build upon the favorable Phase I/II study results, as well as supportive preclinical data. The Phase I/II study results, together with recently generated preclinical data, indicate that ARCT-021 leads to a potent immune response to SARS-CoV-2, and demonstrates a differentiated biological profile whereby the immune response increases in the weeks following vaccination, the company said.

Propanc Biopharma – Australia-based Propanc Biopharma announced the Proenzymes Optimization Project 1 (POP1) joint research and drug discovery program advanced towards producing commercial scale quantities of the two proenzymes trypsinogen and chymotrypsinogen. The company’s product candidate is targeting the global metastatic cancer treatment market, projected to be worth $111.2 billion by 2027. The POP1 program is designed to produce a backup clinical compound to the lead product candidate, PRP. The objective is to produce large quantities of trypsinogen and chymotrypsinogen for commercial use that exhibits minimal variation between lots and without sourcing the proenzymes from animals.

Tetra Bio-Pharma – Canada’s Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc. submitted a New Drug Submission for Dronabinol Soft Gel capsules with Health Canada. If approved, the drug, which would be marketed as Reduvo, would be the company’s first cannabis-based drug approved in Canada. Reduvo will be indicated in AIDS-related anorexia associated with weight loss and severe nausea, and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) – Hong Kong-based Hutchison China MediTec, better known as Chi-Med, announced the National Medical Products Administration of China (NMPA) approved surufatinib for the treatment of non-pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (“NETs”). Surufatinib will be marketed in China under the brand name Sulanda. Surufatinib is Chi-Med’s first self-discovered oncology drug to be approved in China without the support of a development partner, and follows the approval of Chi-Med’s first oncology drug, Elunate (fruquintinib capsules), in 2018. The NMPA approval of Sulanda was based on results from the Phase III SANET-ep study in patients with advanced non-pancreatic NETs conducted in China. The study met the pre-defined primary endpoint of progression-free survival at a preplanned interim analysis.

Relief Therapeutics – Switzerland-based Relief Therapeutics and U.S.-based partner NeuroRx concluded enrollment of the Phase IIb/III trial of Zyesami (previously RLF-100TM: aviptadil) for the treatment of Respiratory Failure in patients with Critical COVID-19. No drug-related serious adverse events have been reported as of today. Enrollment was increased from 165 patients in order to amass as large a safety database as possible. Top line data are expected in late January or early February 2021.

Eurofins Genomics – Luxemburg-based Eurofins Genomics launched an optimized next-generation sequencing service providing full length viral genome sequences for COVID-19. The increasing diversity of SARS-CoV-2 variants and the potential threat of increased virulence, higher infectivity and altered epitopes of these newly evolving viral strains, underline the need to identify, trace and track mutations over the complete viral genome. Whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequencing identify mutant strains and spot emerging risks, including potentially immune and vaccine evasive variants, at an early stage.

RDIF -- Health officials in Belarus have begun vaccinating residents with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Belarus was the first country to officially register Sputnik V after Russia. Belarus was also the first foreign country to begin clinical trials of Sputnik V.

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